by Brian Monteith, The Edinburgh Evening News, Friday 31st March 2017
Finally, after nine months of court cases, political grandstanding, parliamentary votes, demonstrations and international jet-setting the EU has been served notice. The legal process of leaving the EU has begun and the resulting spectacle of double standards provides more entertainment than the BBC licence fee.
Nicola Sturgeon tweets that by triggering Article 50 Theresa May is taking us over a cliff edge without knowing where we will land. Yet the Prime Minister has gained in dignity and respect. She campaigned for the UK to stay in the European Union but has accepted her defeat with grace at the hands of democracy and is now working to deliver what the majority of the British electorate wanted.
The Prime Minister also has a plan. It may or may not be a good plan that delivers a soft landing – but she does at least have one.
By comparison Nicola Sturgeon was prepared for Scotland to be outside the EU as the price for us leaving the UK in 2014 – but now speaks as if leaving the EU is the worst thing that could ever happen to Scotland. More importantly, and more worryingly, Nicola Sturgeon has no plan. She now wants us to vote again to leave the UK – without knowing what currency we’d have, what price we would have to pay to get back into the EU, whether our borders would be hard or soft and how many jobs we’d lose as a consequence.
How would we pay for the Scottish government’s public deficit of £15 billion a year? No plan. Not so much driving off a cliff as the Grand Canyon. And without insurance.
Brexit cannot be an automatic bed of roses. Whatever the outcome of the negotiations for the trading, migration and residency and legal arrangements it will be up to us to make a success of it for ourselves.
There is still much that can go wrong for Theresa May, but she is now in the driving seat.
Take the management of our fishing grounds. If Theresa May sells out our fishermen, like Ted Heath did in the 70s, she will lose a great deal of goodwill and support from her own backers and fuel fresh demands for Scotland to back independence from the UK and EU.
The next two years of negotiations will be a rollercoaster ride, whether we get off safely at the end or go over a cliff will be up to us, not the EU.
To do this we need to hold our nerve and work together, not against each other.
Brexit deniers just want worst
I now know what it is like to be Tony Blair, Richard Branson, Bob Geldof or an SNP politician – hoping Brexit will go wrong for the country so they might benefit from disaster.
This week, I had just boarded a flight when the captain announced there was a problem and we would have to go back to the terminal building and wait a few hours while a technician was flown in – from Brussels (honest!) At that point many passengers, knowing they would be late, started looking up compensation on their smart phones and began wishing the worst – that it would be over three hours so they could make a compensation claim. It was rather like those that want the worst from Brexit, no matter the inconvenience and pain for others, they wish the worst so they might profit from it.